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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : The Prison Letters : Archive : December, 1780
An exchange between Sade and his wife...

Earlier, Sade had asked his wife for a piece of her dress, as a fetish--a fact which made his wife uncomfortable enough to forget his request and also to pretend ignorance as to its use when she finally did send it, offering to send a piece from a new dress and not one that had her scent on it. ~NS


Mme de Sade to her husband.
December 18, 1780

I beg pardon, my dear love, for my forgetting to send you a piece of my dress. Here you have a sleeve. If you had not told me that you would prefer one that I had worn, I would have sent you some taffeta that was cleaner and neater.

The majority of the comedies that remain for me to send you have not been published. I have charged many people with this matter, and as soon as I get them, you will have them. They have even asked the authors of some of them, who have promised a copy as soon as they are printed.

Mérigot [Sade’s bookseller] asks for the Voyage de Cook.

They are asking for the first volume of Maintenon, and Amblet is hounded for the first four volumes of Crevier.

I embrace you. They have told me that you rejected the room with a chimney [Sade’s note: “it had never been offered”].

*****

Sade opens this letter by quoting and mocking his wife’s optimistic statements in her earlier letters. Near the end, he imagines a satirical print depicting his hated mother-in-law and her conspirators against Sade, including Lieutenant General of Police Lenoir, Police Officer Marais who had arrested Sade, Commandant de Rougemont, and Albaret, Sade’s former servant and now his mother-in-law’s presumed lover. ~NS

Sade to his wife.
[December 30, 1780]

“This is certainly the last New Year’s letter that I will write to you at Vincennes, my dear love . . .”

“Oh! I assure you that the year will not come to an end without my having the pleasure of embracing you . . .”

“You must never despair, the year has not yet passed, and I see nothing contrary to the hopes that I offered you for '79.”

“This will certainly be the year of grace, the end of our suffering . . .”

“The Provost and all his band just assured me that the year 79 will be very happy for me, and he told me this in a manner to convince me of it.” (I believe that one, because your happiness consists in my being locked up; that is subtle!)

There you have, Madame, a sample of your abominable lies. In vain will you fall back on the notion that others have deceived you. Either you should have said nothing, or you should have spoken only what you are sure of. In short, you are an imbecile to allow yourself to be led about by the tip of your nose, and those who lead you are monsters who deserve the gallows, and, which is better, to be hanged there until the crows devour them.

I sometimes picture your rotten mother before the abscess of her foul black bile had been loosed upon me drop by drop. She must have been swelled up like Doctor Crispin’s peasant who ate three bushels of pills. I am astonished that she has not exploded twenty times from it, but heaven, to my misfortune, did not wish it. I have sketched out a small illustration of that, which I wish to have engraved upon my release.

In it, la présidente is seen naked, lying on her back, giving the appearance of those monsters that the sea sometimes leaves exposed on the shore . . .. M. Len[oir], who takes her pulse, and who says: “Madame, a puncture is necessary, or the bile will choke you.” With that, they summon her gigolo, Albaret, who punctures his sweet mistress. Marais, who holds the candle for this affair, and who from time to time tastes the eruption to see if it is commendable, and little R[ougemont] who holds the dish and who--although it is completely full--says in a falsetto: “Courage, courage! there isn’t enough there to pay for three months rent in my little house . . .”

This will make a delightful engraving. . . .

I add my prayers for you, Madame, for the New Year.

You and your execrable family and their vile hirelings, may you all be sewn into a sack and thrown to the bottom of the sea. Afterwards, let the news be brought to me at once, and I swear to God that this will be the happiest moment in my whole life. There you have, Madame, both my prayers and my wishes, in which your w[hore] Rousset is included from head to toe.

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Sade was incarcerated for 14 years without trial before being freed by the French Revolution. In that time he wrote hundreds of letters to his wife. Receive a new letter every week never before translated into English. Click here to subscribe.

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